Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Last weekend, I visited my parents in San Francisco.

I get out there once a year on business, and I take the opportunity to see them while I am at it. It's a good deal.

This year, the first time I visited as a knitter, I discovered to my chagrin that I cannot knit while my father is talking.

Now, I am an obsessive enough knitter that I have knit wile conversing with many people, even with people who require more reciprocal interaction from me than my father, and I have done so without mistakes. Granted, I was working on my mittens, a relatively complicated two-color project, but I had completed the entire first mitten prior to the visit, without trouble. On the second mitten, with my dad talking, I made a mistake in the very first row. And the second row. And the fourth row. There is a mistake in the seventh row that I didn't catch and will have to fix with duplicate stitching. It is...magic.

That's the thing about parents. I can't remember who said it, but it's the truth: they know how to push your buttons because they installed them. I love my father, and for the most part his conversation (which begins the moment I set foot in the door and continues nonstop until the moment I leave, with little to no input from me) is simply an expression of his concern and love for me. I get that. In my old age it doesn't even bother me as much it used to.

Or does it? I thought I was doing fine, but there's that knitting, making a liar of me....

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Knittin' mittens

I just wanted to say, I am loving my mittens. I designed them myself and am almost done with the thumb gusset on the first mitten. Since I made the cuff very long, this means I am about 5" into the knitting. I love how fast it's going. I've never made mittens before, but I am thoroughly charmed. I wonder if I will have the same reaction to socks?

I would tell more about my mittens, but I love them so much I think I may try to get them published. Wouldn't that be a hoot? We'll see how they turn out, first :-).

Because they're small, the mittens have me thinking about knitting gifts this year. I am definitely going to knit socks for my mom for Christmas--I am curious about sock knitting, and she did request a pair. I am knitting that hat for my boyfriend. But my boyfriend has several gift requirements this fall: there's our first date anniversary, then Christmas, then his birthday, all within two months. I feel that I cannot, however much I am tempted, give him knitted things for every occasion.

For one thing, I don't think I have the time to knit everything I want to knit in the first place.

For another, well: knitting doesn't excite him the way it excites me :-).

Besides, there's the Curse of the Love Sweater. Part of me wants to invoke it: I'm at a point in my life where, if it's not going to work out, I want to know sooner rather than later, and the Curse is as good a way as any to find out. On the other hand, I'd hate to put all that work and yarn to waste.

While I ponder it, here's another FO:

This is the second (technically third) thing I knitted, the alien illusion scarf from Stitch 'n' Bitch. It was a gift for my "pseudoniece." I'm not sure she much cared for it, which is why I am wary of giving too many knitted gifts. Knitting is just not interesting to non-knitters. When I was a non-knitter, I couldn't imagine ever taking up knitting, because I just didn't see myself ever needing that much knitted stuff. Indeed, though I've knitted quite a few things, I find I hardly ever wear them. Part of this is, well, it's summer right now, and too beastly hot to wear anything knitted. As fall settles in, we'll see where my knitted garments stand.

At least I'll have a pair of gorgeous warm mittens!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Not enough pictures on this blog

Real knitting blogs have pictures, many pictures of FOs.

I have only recently acquired a digital camera. I'm a Luddite, you could say: I am the only person I know (other than my parents) who does not own a cellphone. For years I held out against digital cameras. I don't care what they say: prints from digital files are flat and grainy. I've yet to see a digital print that I thought was of decent quality. Yes, I know professional photographers use digital cameras today, but I am not a professional photographer; I take snapshots, and so do my friends. And every digital snapshot I've ever seen has been flat and grainy.

Doubtless the secret is in the megapixels, but for now, I hold stubbornly onto my film camera, and I have bought the cheapest possible digital camera for blog pics.

Here are pics of my first project, that beaded sweater knitted on size 3 needles:

(My friend took these pics with her digital camera.)

I believe I used Anny Blatt Baby wool, and got 7 stitches per inch. I honestly don't know if I will ever be able to do that again. I love the fabric small needles make, but I am just too impatient to knit at such a small gauge. I want to be done so I can move onto the next thing!

Yet I hate chunky knits, so I will never be a big gauge girl. For now I seem to have settled on DK (5.5 spi) as my favorite gauge.

Now, if I am being absolutely honest, this is not the very first thing I ever knitted. The very first thing was a scarf I knit in grad school, in 1992. I knit it in the round, with broad black-and-white stripes, and if you laid the scarf out flat you could see that the stripes were actually large letters which spelled "Brian" (the friend for whom the scarf was a gift). I designed it with the help of a knitting friend and, I must say, it turned out nicely. I also was so bored by the end of it I swore never to knit again.

Fast-forward 13 years, and a beaded sweater on size 3's was the perfect distraction for a broken heart. Hopefully I will never have to take such drastic measures again!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Project Runway

I recently discovered Project Runway. My friends had talked about it, they'd even shown me episodes from Season 2. But I had not been hooked until recently.

The first episode I saw this season was the dog episode. I don't like dogs, and I especially despise those little yappy dogs that people put clothes on. In my neighborhood there are two "dress your dog in stupid and expensive crap" stores within three blocks of my apartment. I know New York City is full of weirdos with too much money, but can there really be that high a demand for this stuff?

But nevertheless, I loved the dog episode of Project Runway. I suppose you could say I loved it despite the dogs. I loved the criss-cross bodice onMichael's outfit. I loved the mix-and-match prints of Uli's outfit. I loved the super cool pleated neck of Keith's dress (though I loathe Keith).

I used to be a sewer, and I admit Project Runway appeals most to the buried sewer lurking beneath the knitter. Alas, sewing is difficult to do in a small apartment: you get little bits of thread and tissue paper and fabric everywhere. I am no neatnik by any stretch of the imagination, but this drives even me to distraction. I fear that sewing will not return to my lineup of hobbies until I have a dedicated room for it. Someday.

Knitting has an advantage over sewing in that it is fairly portable and contained. I can do it sitting on my couch watching Project Runway, and it doesn't get all over the place. Sure, I find bits of yarn here and there, but even when weaving in ends the bits of yarn do not add up to an unbearable mess.

The other advantage I am finding with knitting over sewing is that I am far more likely to experiment. Knitting has stretch, so you don't have to make the pieces fit utterly perfectly; close enough is good enough. If you find you don't like something, you can rip it out and all you've wasted is time; with sewing, if you cut a piece of fabric wrong, you've cut it wrong. I am jumping into design so much more readily than I ever did with sewing: I cannot remember a single time I took liberties with a pattern in years of sewing (I mean real design liberties, not fitting adjustments), yet I have already done it in mere months of knitting. The mittens and the hat I am knitting are of my own design, and it is only a matter of time before I start a bigger garment on my own. I love this, and the design process is starting to fascinate me in a way it did not before. Hence my fascination, perhaps, with Project Runway.

However, knitting has one huge disadvantage over sewing: it takes forever to make anything. If I am focused I can whip out a sewn garment in a weekend; a skirt might take only a few hours. With knitting I consider a month for a tank top lightning fast. There are times when I find this wildly frustrating.

With all the knits coming into fashion this fall, I am imagining a knitter on Project Runway, with 2 days to make a three-piece outfit to star in the window of Macy's. Even a tank top, leg warmers and a shrug would take longer. It's simply not possible. I will have to relegate that fantasy to my buried sewer.

But....but if I had been on this season, I might still have knit a ridiculous sweater for the dog.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Stash busting

From my wanderings in the online knitting world, I gather that many, many knitters have multiple "WIP"s, or works-in-progress. When I started knitting, I was bound and determined not to start anything new until I had finished the thing I was working on. In fact, I even swore I would not buy yarn for any project until I had finished the one I had "on the needles."

You can imagine how long that lasted.

I used to be a sewer (as in one who sews, not a drainage pit). I have stashes of fabric in a two different closets, fabric I will never get to in a million years. Now I have yarn to match. It's a sickness, this need to hoard.

I am proud, though: two of my last three FOs came from yarn in my stash. I feel particularly proud because when I purchased these two yarns, I did not have the projects they eventually became in mind. I consider this a true stash-busting achievement.

Never mind that in the course of knitting these two projects I bought enough yarn for three more. We must accentuate the positive.

Right now I have three things I am knitting:

1) a hat for my boyfriend (the first gift I ever gave him, when we had been dating a mere six weeks, was a hat I had knitted. I am starting a small tradition). I am knitting this from yarn I bought for the purpose.

2) mittens, also from purpose-bought yarn.

3) a Somewhat Cowl sweater (pattern from Knit and Tonic) in yarn I bought on a whim, with no project in mind. A true stash-buster.

Maybe I should try a new resolution: I must always have one true stash-buster on the needles. Something I am knitting from a yarn that has been in my stash for long enough that I have lost interest in the project I bought it for. If I bought it with no project in mind, even better.

It's not that I don't have ideas: right now I am obsessed with an idea I have for a dress, using a silk yarn in my stash, bought for no reason but that I loved it. But a dress is an enormous amount of knitting, and I have not yet dived fully into designing, and so I am intimidated by the project. Maybe by the time I get through that Somewhat Cowl, I'll have built up the courage.

Or I will have moved on to the next idea. I always have more ideas than I have time to knit. Which is how the stash began in the first place.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

You know you're addicted to knitting when you start blogging about it.

I used to think I didn't have anything to say that would be of interest to the general world.

I still think I don't.

But, I have become addicted to knitting, and I read a number of knitting blogs, and I understand: a blog is where you can go on and on about knitting without boring your friends, your family, your coworkers....

So, a bit about me and my knitting journey:

I started knitting in September of 2005, as a cure to a broken heart. My first project was a beaded short-sleeved sweater knitted on size 3 needles (from Sarah Dallas' Vintage Knits). The friend who taught me to knit thought I was crazy, but I needed something on which to focus. Also, I didn't see any point in knitting something I wouldn't wear, and I have never been a chunky sweater fan.

I finished the sweater six weeks later, and a coworker exclaimed (admittedly while eating a chocolate cookie I'd also made), "You made that?! [Ex's name] is stupid!"

Is there any wonder I became addicted?

Since then I have made quite a few tops (and reaffirmed my dislike of chunky knits), and a hat for a new boyfriend. My stash has begun to take over my apartment, causing me to seriously consider buying new furniture to house it. I intend to start my first pair of socks soon, as a Christmas present for my mom. And I am starting to do a bit of designing, and I can see already that I will not be able to knit fast enough to keep up with the ideas in my head. This is going to be fun!

I hope the blog will be half so interesting.